View Image Gallery of Subfamily Uraniinae

This subfamily was the focus of the study of Lees & Smith (1991), and consists of about 50 species in seven genera, with a pantropical distribution that breaks down into an interesting biogeographic pattern. Host-plant specialisation within the Euphorbiaceae is also of great interest.

The largest uraniids are found in this subfamily and include a lineage of brightly coloured, day-flying genera. Definitive features are again found in the tympanal organs: in the female the metathoracic epimeron forms a concave cover for the tympanal organs (Sick, 1937; Minet, 1983; Lees & Smith, 1991; Scoble & Minet, in press); the male tympanum is indented at the junction of its anterior and posterior sections (Minet, 1994[5]). Uraniines also lack a well-developed mesanepisternum (Scoble & Minet).

As well as the very large genera discussed under Lyssa Hübner in the next section, the subfamily also includes Urapteroides Moore (See Lyssa Hübner) and its tropical Australasian sister-genus Cyphura Warren, and the Madagascan (and weakly African) Urapteritra Viette. A phylogeny for all these genera was derived by Lees & Smith (1991) and is reproduced in Fig 3.

The host-plants of the Lyssa group are discussed in the next section. Urapteroides and Cyphura larvae are recorded from Endospermum, though there is a record of the former from Suregada, the host of Urapteritra (Lees & Smith, 1991).

Lees & Smith suggested that the establishment of the present distribution patterns could have been vicariant with the break-up of Gondwanaland. The Urapteroides/Cyphura sister-relationship shows biogeographic parallels with Lyssa/Alcides Hübner, the first genus widespread, allopatric Indo-Australian, and the second purely Australasian, though of course Alcides has additional Neotropical and African-Malagasy relationships (see below and Holloway & Hall (1998)).

Figure 3. Phylogeny of the Uraniinae after Lees & Smith (1991). A subsequent analysis (D.C. Lees, pers. comm.) with additional genitalic characters produced this result but also an alternative tree with Alcides placed as sister-genus to Lyssa.

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